Palisade coach Drake Jandreau enjoys playing the Steamboat Springs boys soccer team. He looks forward to games on Dudley Field because the teams play similar styles and match-up well.
It doesn't get more even than Saturday, when the Sailors and Bulldogs tied, 3-3.
Steamboat defeated Palisade, 3-2, in the first game between the two Sept. 11.
Neither scored through the first 25 minutes of the opening half Saturday. The Sailors got on the scoreboard, ending an 82-minute scoring drought, when senior Alec Nelson provided a clinic on ball handling before knocking a shot past Palisade goalie senior Christopher Martin 27 minutes in.
"No. 12 (Nelson) is awesome," Jandreau said. "He plays a very fine game."
Steamboat coach Rob Bohlmann echoed the words of Jandreau, saying Nelson, "set the tone for the match."
The senior midfielder was everywhere Saturday, knocking the ball away from behind, driving toward the goal and delivering perfect passes to Steamboat forwards on runs. He picked up an assist on Steamboat's second goal of the game off the foot of sophomore Darby McNamara.
"I took a pass from Alec, and I had a breakaway," McNamara said.
Bohlmann has juggled his varsity roster, mixing sophomores and freshmen into the fold with the few juniors and seniors on the squad. Saturday, McNamara took advantage of his varsity opportunity, scoring a goal just before the end of the half and tying up the score at 2-2.
The young player, who can't be much more than 5 feet tall, said he sometimes gets lost behind the defense, but he is an explosive player, especially in his first few steps with the ball, Bohlmann said.
Senior Eduardo Rojas and senior Gabriel Jarmillo scored Palisade's first-half goals. Junior Juan Guaderrama was credited with the assist on Rojas' goal.
Within the first minute of the second-half, Sailors sophomore Max Hamil drew a foul in the box, giving Nelson the opportunity to score his second goal of the game. Nelson, who is pretty much an automatic on penalty kicks, went low past Martin to give the Sailors a 3-2 lead.
Eight minutes later, Rojas tied the game on a goal that he bounced over the top of sophomore goalie Bjorn Lickteig. Senior Jordan Gray was in net for the Sailors in the first half. Freshman Kris Sharpe was given the assist on Rojas' second goal.
Neither team scored in the remaining 30 minutes of regulation and 10 minutes of overtime.
Compared to Thursday's 3-0 loss to Moffat County, Steamboat played well Saturday, McNamara said. The Sailors wound up with 14 shots on goal to just 10 for the Bulldogs.
"We had better possession and were moving the ball better," McNamara said.
Steamboat (2-8-1 overall, 2-6-1 in Western Slope League play) returns to action at 4 p.m. Thursday in Rifle. The junior varsity plays at 6 p.m.
--To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org